Bus station opens doors to rough sleepers

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

The community of South Auckland is taking homeless into their own hands, opening the doors of their bus station in Manukau to the homeless.  The doors of this bus station will open on Wednesday for the homeless.

It will accommodate 20 people from 9.30pm through to 7am. This is said not to be a health initiative but rather a way of ensuring homeless people have a safe place to sleep.

Policy Analyst at The Salvation Army, Alan Johnson says, “The idea that people come in and sign on for the night, they’ll be given some hot food, be able to sleep on a mattress, be given a blanket if they need it, and then some breakfast in the morning and then everyone is out of the place by 7 o’clock.”

The idea came about in response to the death of two rough sleepers in South Auckland last year. At the opening of the Manukau Bus Station in April 2018, a senior manager at Auckland Transport proposed the idea to Councillor Alf Filipaina who then approached and The Salvation Army.

The groups worked together in an effort to ensure no one else living on the street will die due to the cold.

“People will just turn up and we’re not going to vet them, if they need a place to sleep the night, well we’ll say they’re rough sleepers, we’re not interested in people being a particular sort of homeless, if they need our help we’re here to offer it,” says Johnson.  

There will be two security guards and one Salvation Army worker who oversee the rough sleepers. Johson estimates there are approximately 50 homeless in the area and it's a first in, first served basis.